The Bartlett School of Planning


Hyunji Cho

Research subject

Thesis title: Regeneration Practices in Diverse Neighbourhoods: A Case Study of Garibong-Dong, South Korea

Primary supervisor: Dr Yasminah Beebeejaun
Secondary supervisor: Professor Mike Raco
Contact: hyunji.cho.14@ucl.ac.uk

This thesis aims at examining the construction of local communities in the Korean planning system and the resulting marginalisation of immigrant groups. This study has a particular focus on mechanisms that were used to involve communities in planning to investigate how local social groups were included or excluded.  The case study explores a neighbourhood, which had a significant Korean Chinese population, who shared ethnicity with the Korean community but were located in disadvantaged positions as low-income immigrant groups.  It investigates the complex dimensions of the unequal social status of the groups and its influence on their participation. 

To explore the processes of participation, this thesis investigated how social capital is formed in neighbourhoods and how it operated in participatory planning.  This thesis is based on mixed methods research, including document analysis, social network analysis, non-participant observation and in-depth interviews, in the Garibong-dong community-led regeneration project in Seoul, South Korea during the period 2015-2017.  Particularly, the thesis integrates the concept of recognition within an analytical framework of social capital to investigate how wider social perception toward immigrant groups influences their formation of social capital.  The thesis demonstrates that the formation of social capital in participatory planning is highly influenced by the social positions of participants.   The social position of Korean Chinese groups as low-income workers appeared persistently in urban policies and contributed to multiple experiences of marginalisation over time.  In this context, the uneven formation of social capital rather than strengthening community bonds reinforced social divisions through the practice of participation.  Social capital provides a lens to help analyse the formation of networks and explore their mobilisation within planning.  However, the study reveals that there are limitations and suggests a fuller engagement with pre-existing inequalities between groups is necessary otherwise participation can result in embedding negative social perceptions toward marginalised groups.


Hyunji is a researcher of urban studies in the field of participatory planning and neighbourhood planning.  Her interests are community activism, micro-politics in urban areas and inclusion/exclusion of minority groups.  She completed her PhD dissertation at UCL, the Bartlett School of Planning under the supervision of Dr Yasminah Beebeejaun and Professor Mike Raco.